Body As Garden or Machine: The Difference Between Western + Eastern Medicine?

There is ancient wisdom in Eastern medicine. We dream of a day in the not too distant future where patients will be able to access both the best of Eastern and Western medicine in the same hospitals and doctor’s offices – both philosophies have a lot to offer.

Rooted in thousands of years of empirical observation and natural treatments, there is much to be gained from Eastern medicine, most notably, the wellness philosophies of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda.

The classic graphic above elegantly informs on some of the major differences between Eastern and Western medical philosophy. Western medicine tends to treat the body as a machine — the body made up of separate parts and dysfunction targeted and treated as it arises. Eastern medicine treats the body as a garden, working from the idea that all elements of our being are interconnected and can pathologically influence each other. Eastern medicine addresses the body as a unified and self-regulating ecosystem that is directly affected by its surrounding environment and needs to be nurtured as a whole.

WEST: Body As A Machine | The Western outlook of medicine is a war-on-disease, with doctors as general, disease as the enemy, patient as occupied territory. The goal is to eradicate the symptoms and maximize performance. Health is defined as an absence of disease and functioning within normative parameters.

EAST: Body As A Garden | The Eastern outlook of medicine is to cultivate health with a doctor and patient in partnership to improve ecological conditions. The goal is to enhance self-regulatory capacity. Health is defined as integrity, adaptability, and continuity.

In an ideal world, there must be a greater convergence of the two philosophies — the rising popularity of integrative medicine makes it more accessible in modern life.

In reality, it’s up to us to learn to take care of ourselves. Treatment costs aside, we have the modern privilege to access the modalities and philosophies behind both —- if we’ll take the time to learn. Use the info below to dive deeper into Eastern medicine and guide your own self-care practices…

The Core Principles of TCM | Traditional Chinese Medicine approaches health in a uniquely holistic way, enabling us to reach a level of vibrancy like no other. Whether it’s helped you heal or you’re just curious, the philosophy this ancient practice is built upon can be applied throughout our lives. Discovering the core pillars of this philosophy opens up a whole world of healing opportunities. LEARN MORE

The Philosophy Of Ayurveda | Ayurveda addresses imbalances by defining each person’s mind-body type. These ‘doshas‘ help guides individualized healing that considers integrated wellbeing of mind, body, and spirit. LEARN MORE

Focus on The Mind-Body Connection | Ayurveda, which means the knowledge of life, has achieved a buzzy reputation in recent years, but it’s been on the scene for centuries. Profoundly holistic, with an emphasis on intuition and mind-body connection, this adaptive approach to wellness focuses on the link between mind and body — and is built to be trend-proof. LEARN MORE

The Body Has Innate Intelligence | We each embody an energetic force that powers our aliveness. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, that life force energy is called qi. When our qi is in balance, we feel vibrantly unburdened — wellness at its best — but modern life has a way of interrupting that natural equilibrium. That’s why it’s essential to learn how to balance qi. Learn how to identify an imbalance and to elevate your energy to its peak potential. LEARN MORE

Self-Care As Daily Medicine | Acupuncture. Herbs. Yoga. Meditation. Integrating these simple, traditional practices into our modern lives can n reap major benefits. From gut care to skincare, discover a few fascinating self-care rituals inspired by Traditional Chinese medicine that’ll help you achieve a vibrancy that flows from the inside and out. LEARN MORE

Acupuncture Has Serious Benefits | If you’ve never experienced the benefits of acupuncture, the idea of getting poked with needles to relax might sound like a joke. But committing to routine acupuncture appointments is actually a very easy, low maintenance habit that can help to heal pain and fight chronic stress. LEARN MORE

Herbs Can Heal | Like Ayurveda, Chinese herbalism is an ancient philosophy with many layers. We’re had great success with Chinese herbs for a variety of wellness and beauty needs. For an introduction to the herbs themselves, we love this simple guide from Jess Ng, founder of Asian-inspired apothecary Reorient who sees the herbs as a gentle on-going way to keep the body in balance through life’s ups and downs. LEARN MORE

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